Angel Rodriguez to visit this week

Angel Rodriguez, a long-time target of the Kansas State basketball team, will make a visit to campus this weekend and take in the Wildcats’ Madness in Manhattan event Friday evening.

The 5-foot-11 point guard from Miami is rated as a three-star recruit by rivals.com, and shares close ties to former players Denis Clemente and Luis Colon. He is also close with current big man Freddy Asprilla.

His AAU coach, Art Alvarez, said Rodriguez is looking forward to the festivities. And if Frank Martin deems them exciting enough to show off to a recruit, they should be pretty decent, right?

Alvarez has said that Rodriguez is leaning heavily toward K-State in the recruiting process, and could make a commitment to the Wildcats shortly after seeing Manhattan up close.

Clemente’s draft stock rising

Denis

At a recent workout with the New York Knicks, Denis Clemente played so well that Mike D’Antoni left his comfortable seat in the bleachers to have a private conversation with the former Kansas State point guard.

With the 2010 NBA Draft coming up next week, Clemente was thrilled to hear from another interested coach. He’s talked to a handful of them lately, and their feedback has led him to believe he will be selected somewhere in the second round.

Not bad for a guy who experts said wasn’t even a NBA prospect at this time a year ago.

“He’s been pretty much tearing it up at all the workouts he’s been to,” said Art Alvarez, the Miami Tropics AAU coach who is currently working with Clemente in Florida. “The feedback he’s getting is excellent. I’m talking blown-away stuff.”
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With history on their side, Bat Cats have little reason to fear No. 1 Texas

The Texas baseball team sure has a lot going for it right now. Let us count the ways:

The Longhorns are the No. 1 ranked squad in the country. They boast an overall record of 39-7. At 19-2 in Big 12 play, they stand one win away from locking up a regular season conference title. They have the best pitching staff in the nation. They are on a 21-game winning streak.

Whew, that’s a long list. Some might call it intimidating.

But Kansas State fans shouldn’t. Lately, some of their best memories have come while the Longhorns were at their best. Just think back to Jan. 18, which was the last time a Texas squad had so much going for it. On that day, the Texas basketball team took a 17-0 record and No. 1 ranking to Bramlage Coliseum.

Behind the (then) highly touted trio of Avery Bradley, Damion James and Dexter Pittman, Texas appeared rock solid. But the Wildcats handed it a 71-62 defeat on national TV. All of a sudden K-State had the nation’s respect, and it went on to make the Elite eight.
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Notes from the K-State basketball banquet

The biggest news to come out of Kansas State’s postseason awards banquet on Wednesday was Jacob Pullen’s announcement that he will likely return to school for his senior season without first testing the NBA waters.

But I have some other interesting factoids to pass along as well.

For starters, the banquet was sold out, and close to 500 people celebrated a great season on the floor of Bramlage Coliseum. Compared to four years ago, when coach Frank Martin was just arriving in Manhattan and 50 people came out to the Alumni Center, it was an enjoyable evening for everyone involved.

“It’s great,” Martin said. “That’s what this is all about. This is a night to honor these kids. It’s great that so many people show up and are excited about the program.”
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Martin reflects on breakthrough season

Kansas State basketball coach Frank Martin, looking more rested than he has in weeks, met with the media one final time today before heading off to the Final Four.

He said he has yet to look back at video replays of either K-State’s epic win over Xavier in the Sweet 16 or disappointing loss to Butler in the Elite Eight, but remembered both so vividly that he could describe every possession.

Martin said he felt bad for Jacob Pullen, because after draining big shot after big shot all season, he had to watch a key three-pointer rattle in and out late against Butler. Had that trey stayed down, K-State would likely be headed to Indianapolis.

Martin also said he still can’t believe the Wildcats held off Xavier. Regrettably, his lasting memory of the NCAA Tournament was watching Jordan Crawford hit a step-back three (from about 30-feet away) at the end of the first overtime. K-State went on to win in double overtime, but at that moment Martin remembers saying, “I don’t know if we can overcome this.”
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Postgame: Butler 63, K-State 56

Over the past month, as Kansas State challenged for a Big 12 championship and a spot in the Final Four, Frank Martin routinely talked about how important it was for his players to embrace the moment.

He told them to push their bodies to the brink, to focus as hard as they could during games and take a shot at being great.

If the Wildcats could accept those challenges, their season would end in one of two ways: euphoria or heartbreak.

Well, Martin’s team did everything he asked, and that meant tears were everywhere in the K-State locker room Saturday.

After winning more games than any other squad in program history, after climbing high up into the national rankings and after making a name for itself in the NCAA Tournament, K-State was beaten by Butler 63-56 and fell one game short of the Final Four.
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Postgame: K-State 101, Xavier 96 (2OT)

Kansas State’s 101-96 win over Xavier at EnergySolutions Arena on Thursday was so entertaining, so incredible and so epic that you could call it “the greatest game I’ve ever seen,” without fear of disagreement.

Denis Clemente willed K-State to victory in the second half. Jordan Crawford refused to let Xavier lose. Jacob Pullen hit some game-altering three-pointers for the Wildcats. Terrell Holloway played 47 minutes of clutch basketball for the Musketeers.

Both teams were impressive, and that’s what made the game so great.

The madness went on for nearly three hours and two overtimes, and as play went deeper the reactions got bigger.

Exuberant CBS announcer Gus Johnson stood up multiple times during his call and hopped around with excitement. Everyone in the arena — including crushed Syracuse fans — were on their feet after all the huge plays. At one point, the officials all looked at each other in disbelief and shook their heads. They couldn’t believe what they were witnessing either.
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Postgame: K-State 84, BYU 72

Pullen

Jacob Pullen. Jacob Pullen. Jacob Pullen.

The name is worth repeating.

On Saturday at the Ford Center, he delivered THE performance of the NCAA Tournament. On offense, he drained seven three-pointers on his way to a career high 34 points. On defense, he locked down on BYU star Jimmer Fredette and held him to a below-average night.

And with Kansas State’s leading scorer playing so well in an 84-72 victory over BYU in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, basketball fans across the country are sure to be hearing more about him as the Wildcats head to Salt Lake City for the Sweet 16.
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Clemente can relate to Fredette

Denis Clemente knows what it’s like to be the center of attention.

A year ago, when the Kansas State senior guard went to Texas and scored a whopping 44 points against the Longhorns, he became a marked man.

Every defense he faced for the rest of the season drew up double teams against him, and tried to make the Wildcats find offense in other places. If they were to lose to K-State, so be it. But under no circumstances did they want to be shot down by Clemente.

So he of all people can relate to BYU’s Jimmer Fredette today. After scoring 37 against Florida, K-State will try to gang up on him today the same way teams around the Big 12 ganged up on Clemente a year ago.

“It can be tough,” Clemente said. “But you’ve just got to go out there and challenge yourself.”
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Postgame: K-State 82, North Texas 62

The first step has been taken.

Normally, against a 15 seed like North Texas that’s not saying a whole lot. That’s a game the favorite should just about always win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. But on this Thursday, a win in that scenario was worth bragging about.

Especially when you consider the way Kansas State beat North Texas.

While other high seeds across the country saw their seasons end abruptly at the hands of double-digit seeds, the Wildcats blew out the Mean Green. Everyone played, and the last few minutes at the Ford Center were a party.
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